Italian Food and Wine – The Unique Flavors of Alto Adige

The Flavors From The Most Northern Area of Italy

Each region and province in Italy produces its’ own array of cheeses and cured meats, and some of the products are quite famous such as the province of Parma’s ham, proscuito, and their cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, as are the tomatoes and mozzarella of Naples. The province of Alto Adige has its own cured products that have been around for years, centuries, and four distinct cheeses and a cured ham that are quite unique.

Alto Adige is Italy’s most northern province, and it borders Switzerland and Austria. It’s culture and food is Italian, which is influenced by the Swiss and the Austrians, particularly the Austrians. Italian is Alto Adige’s official language with most of the folks also being fluent in French and German. Particularly German which is spoken by many families at home. What is practiced with the languages is also practiced with the food.

A week or so ago, I had the privilege of being invited to an Alto Adige food event by the Italian Trade Commission of New York. at Di Palo’s Fine Food’s Market on Grand Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Maria Woodley of the Italian Trade Commission was a very gracious hostess, as were the Di Palo family and staff. Lou Di Palo the family patriarch is a very informed food person. He provided us with an excellent taste and description of the food products.

Most interesting to me were four cheeses and a cured ham.

The four cheeses are:

Alta Badia—-A cows milk cheese aged 8 t0 10 months develops a light straw color with aromatic flavors of the Dolomites Mountain fresh air and unique foliage, spices and fruit. It is dense, smooth and slices easily.

Dolomiten Konig – King—-This cheese is made of cows milk of the Pusteria valley and named after King Lauren a legendary local hero. Its convex shape with holes similar to Swiss cheese makes it easy to recognize Dolomiten Konig. It is a cutting cheese that is aged 2 months with a soft texture, and it is a full flavored cheese with a bit of sweetness and a walnut seasoning.

Lagrein—- It is a red wine grape from the Lagarina Valley in South Tyrol, Alto Adige. High in the Venosta Valley the folks produce their magnificent wine. Here they love their wine and cheese, and they soak their cheese in the wine before smothering it with a hodgepodge of secrete herbs. The herbed cheese is aged for about 3 months to obtain the Lagrein characteristics. The cheese has fine irregular cracks, and has a pleasant elastic consistency. The fine balance of wine and herbs gives Lagrien cheese its distinguished aromatic and intense flavors.

Stelvio DOP—-Or, Stilfser as it is spoken of in this German speaking alpine community, is a hard red rind cows milk cheese with small holes. It is a buttery pungent cheese that has a nutty aroma. It is also an excellent melting cheese, specifically over Speck Alto Adige.

Speck Alto Adige IGP—–The day Lou Di Palo tasted speck in Alto Adige, he decided to sell it in his store in Little Italy, and helped to import and establish Speck Alto Adige IGP in the United States. Speck is the blending of 2 food cultures, which fuses,the smoking of Germany and dry aging of Italy. It is an old curing method first mentioned in writing in the 1200’s. Lean boneless thighs of a pig are used to make speck. The thighs are rubbed with salt and secret spices, smoked a  little, given plenty of Dolomite Mountain fresh air and loving care for an average of 22 weeks for its unique mountain flavors. Some folks refer to speck as smoked prosciutto – I don’t think so. Speck has sweet, herbal, smoky flavors that provide a lasting finish.


Margaret Cicogna, Italian Cheese Expert and Gourmet product specialist, was on hand to guide visitors through a tasting of products; sharing insight on the region and the products themselves: “Alto Adige is a beautiful region, 

Publish Date: 05/09/2013 11:41

Lou Di Palo Presents Cheeses of Alto Adige

Created on September 13, 2011 using FlipShare.